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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Perspectives: The Disconnect...

By Paul Semendinger

May 23, 2024

***

With the win last night, the Yankees helped calm the many worries of many fans that doomsday was coming. I was not one who was panicking, yet, but I understand the fear. It's been a long time since the Yankees were big winners. When one's team falls short time and again, over and over, one can get cynical and start to see not the good, but only the heartbreak that seemingly always lies ahead. Many fans are bracing for the inevitable heartbreak they see coming. That's what the Yankees of the last 15 years, or so, have created. They have developed a fan base that waits, with dread, for the other shoe to drop - because every single year, the other shoe has dropped.


And, unfortunately, it's not like the Yankees are the only team in New York that continually loses. We love to think of New York as the greatest city in the world (and it is, in many ways), but it certainly hasn't been the greatest sports city if we look to championships as the defining characteristic of greatness. Yankees fans can't gravitate to teams in other sports to find success. New York fans, in general, have been watching and rooting for teams that continually fall short.


The Yankees haven't won a World Series since 2009.


The Giants won the Super Bowl in 2012 (ending the 2011 season). No team in New York has won a championship since. It's been a long time for the big city to see a champion.


The Jets haven't won a Super Bowl since 1969.


The Mets haven't won a World Series since 1986.


The Knicks haven't won the NBA Championship since 1973

The Nets have never won the NBA Championship.


The Rangers haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1994.

The Devils haven't won the Stanley Cup since 2003.

The Islanders haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1983.


You know what? That's a lot of losing. That's a lot of disappointment.


Looking at that record of lack of success, one can understand how fans can be doubters. It's tough to hope and hope and hope and to get those hopes crushed time and time and time and time again.


There hasn't been a lot of winning in New York. At all. Fans are desperate for a winner. They can't wait to embrace a winner....


***

The 2024 Yankees are rolling. Even with the two loses to the Mariners, they're rolling. Things are finally looking up for this team that hasn't won in a long time. They brought in Juan Soto. They're in first place. Things are going well overall and then...


Hal Steinbrenner said the following (as reported in the NY Post):


“I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at the levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially... it wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of ownership [groups], given the luxury tax we have to pay.”


Oh my goodness. And one wonders why fans are cynical and they don't believe in the franchise and the owner. Why bring this up now? Just when people are getting excited...


According to Forbes, the Yankees' reported revene in 2023 was $679 million. I'm sorry. I don't have any pity for the Yankees and their large payroll. This is a club that's valued at $7.55 BILLION. They are the sport's most valuable franchise. By a long shot.


Mr. Steinbrenner is correct when he says that the costs wouldn't be sustainable for most other ownership groups. But the Yankees are not most other groups. They simply aren't. It's a false equation. It's like Andrew Carnegie saying, "Yeah, most other businesses can't afford to pay what we do for steel production."


Mr. Steinbrenner, I don't care that other teams can't afford to pay what you pay. You are not other teams. Not by a long shot. Your team isn't even in most team's universes.


I can just imagine J.P Morgan in the 1880s, talking to his family using this logic. "You know, I'm going to sell the mansions. It turns out that not everyone can live in Newport, Rhode Island. It's not sustainable for them. I guess we can't either."


The bigger question is why, on Earth, would Mr. Steinbrenner come out, right now, and make a statement like that? The fans are getting excited. There is joy in the Bronx, and he goes and throws a wet towel on the whole thing.


"Yeah, we might be winning right now, but don't get used it to it. "


I can imagine Christmas morning in a home like that. "Yes, kids, there are lots of presents under the tree, but you can't open them. I know they have your names on them, but, Santa needs to take them away..."


I have often accused the Yankees' management team of being tone deaf. This is another instance. Just leave well enough alone. Smile, Mr. Steinbrenner. Your team is in first place. The fans are getting excited. People are starting to really believe and hope... don't start talking about how much it costs to win. We know. We pay some of the highest ticket prices in the nation. It costs a small fortune to simply go to a game.


When someone asks about the team, simply say, "We're winning. And we plan to keep on winning." That's what fans want to hear. I'd dare say it's what Yankees fans, who pay a lot of money to support the team, deserve.


When I hear the owner of a team worth over 7 billion dollars talk about costs, I also start to think about costs. The GWB Bridge is expensive. Parking at the stadium is expensive. The food is expensive. Tickets aren't cheap. On and on... Just when I think, "Ok, the Yankees are all in, I will be too," the owner tells me to think twice before I spend my money on his team. It's a poor business strategy. Very poor.


And to me, it's baffling. Why would this be the moment to start to lower expectations?


"I know you are excited. I know you really believe... but don't. This won't last. I can promise you that. We might win this year, but next year, forget it."


UGGGG!!!


***

It tuns out that there is a new book out about the Yankees way of doing things. I have not read the book yet, but I heard part of an interview with the author on WFAN as I was driving. They discussed a lot. The link is in the line above - take a listen.


In the interview they discussed the revelation that George Steinbrenner was a tough (very very tough) man to work for. (Didn't we know that already?)


I got the sense in listening that somehow in this, the listener (and I guess the reader of the book) is supposed to feel sympathy for Brian Cashman for having to work in that environment. I get it. That's not totally wrong. No one should ever have to work in a hostile work environment.


But...


I believe they said that before he took his first job with the Yankees that Brian Cashman's dad was a sometimes friend/business associate of George Steinbrenner. Wait... big stop here. Before Brian Cashman ever stepped foot in Yankee Stadium, before he accepted his first role, he had to know of the work environment. We're talking 1986 here. Cashman started with the Yankees in 1986. Everyone knew what it was like to be part of the Yankees. Books had been written about it. It was back page fodder for well over a decade. Didn't Brian Cashman's dad warn him what it might be like? And yet, he took the job.


And he stayed, ever since. Brian Cashman could have left. He wasn't forced to be part of the Yankees. He knew what it was like to work there. He saw and was part of it firsthand. But he stayed. And the Yanks won. And he got famous. And he became very wealthy. And very powerful. And he stayed and stayed and stayed.


I would have hated to work for a tyrant. No one should ever have to. It must be horrible. But one cannot say that Brian Cashman didn't know, very clearly, what he was getting into and then what he was part of. Along with the horribleness, there must have also been a lot of good - the other rewards that came with being an executive of the New York Yankees. You know...Fame and fortune and everything that goes with it...


In the interview it is said that Brian Cashman is a Hall of Fame level executive. I agree. I have also said, for years, that he belongs in Monument Park. Absolutely.


It was said that the other teams leaders and owners all respect Brian Cashman. And they should. They believe he is one of the greatest general managers. And he is.


That also means that he could get a job with another team if he ever wanted to pursue that approach or if he had wanted to in the past. But, in spite of all the bad, he stayed with the Yankees. (And, dare I say, as an executive, he was part of that culture.) There must have been some good too that he figured outweighed or mitigated the bad. He had choices. And he stayed. He stayed while George was there. For more than two decades...


***

They also discussed how Brian Cashman almost quit in 2005, and that he demanded total control of the team as a prerequisite for staying past that point. And he got it! The Yankees since 2005 are his team. Success!


But, wait... since 2005, the Yankees have won exactly, one championship.


They even said in the interview that Brian Cashman, once he gained control, and especially in recent years, that he got away from the things that previously brought the Yankees their success. He started doing things his way. (And it didn't work.) They also mentioned that he is slow to adapt. And that he stopped listening to the criticism. It was said that, "He's disengaged a lot the last couple of years."


As Yankees fans, shouldn't we want the man running the club to understand the frustrations we feel? Does this make us feel better about the club that the man running it seems to have insulated himself from the voices of the fans? Maybe that would be fine if his track record was one of championships, but, it's not.


Again, Cashman has been a very good GM. He hasn't been a championship GM.


Brian Cashman's track record is one of building very good teams, by and large, but not great teams. The Yankees under Brian Cashman, especially since 2005, haven't been great. Not even close. The Yankees under Brian Cashman have been very good. Not great. Since 2005, they have won one World Series.


And I think that's the big divide. After listening to that interview, and after reading the Steinbrenner quote above, I think that's the big divide...


I have figured it out.


The perception of the Yankees brass, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman in particular, is that Yankees fans should be happy. They're spending a lot of money. Most teams can't afford to spend like they do. And they put out winning teams. Not championship level teams... but winning teams. And they are correct.


This disconnect is they want the fans to be happy and content with that.


Again - the Yankees spend a lot. The Yankees win a lot of games. They just don't win championships.


And I think, for the fans, they've been seeking a championship or championships (plural) and the team has failed to deliver on that front.


I've been saying exactly this from the start here at SSTN, from 2017 or 2018 when I first wrote about the Yankees being "good and not great." The team leadership wants the fans to be content with good.


But good isn't good enough. Good enough never is. No. Especially not for the Yankees.


It's time for the Yankees to be great.


It's time for greatness to be the defining charcateristic of the team. And it isn't. It's nice that the Yankees are good and have been good for a long long time. But the Yankees haven't been great. And the fans, yes, including me, are desiring greatness. We want a championship.


And that, it seems (clearly to me) is the great divide. The team's leaders are frustrated because "Those darn fans don't appreciate good, they want great."


Exactly.

***

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9 comentarios


etbkarate
23 may

Hal is a the poster child of the LSC (lucky sons club). Even his father knew years ago when it was public knowledge that his Son in Law, not Son, would take over when George was done. That says a lot. The divorce changed that. So we have Hal for better or for worse. Cashman, who some say has done a decent job, has over stayed his welcome. Its just a fact, he's in his 26th season as GM. We've had 5 US Presidents since 1998. its been long enough.


But, I will say this much, they do pay their players, and I can agree with Hal that it should not cost a team $300MM to win a world series.…


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jjw49
23 may

Hal is not the smartest guy in the room.... he got lucky and PR isn't his strong suit so here we are... you want Soto... well then say goodbye to Torres, Verdugo, Rizzo, Kahlne, and one or two others will likely be playing elsewhere.... I'd say not a bad trade-off! Everything you write about Yankees is true, Yankee fans are inured toward how expensive it is to enjoy a game at the Stadium... prices are not coming down! Contrast ownership between Dodgers and Yankees. I'll let everyone draw their own conclusions!

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
23 may

I suspect Hal's comment was directed at Boras after foolishly shooting his mouth off about negotiating over Soto during the season. Hal strikes me as an outstanding bean-counter, but a poor negotiator, and even the save he pulled on Judge was driven by bean-counting analysis (whatever Judge makes, we'll make more off of him) rather than negotiating skill.

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jeff
23 may

There is never a guarantee of a championship when building a ballclub. There are 30 teams and only 1 of those 30 can win a championship. 29 teams will be disappointed because they didn't. And once the post season starts, it is not necessarily the best teams that make it to the World Series, or even win the World Series. Often, the best teams are eliminated early. The teams that make it to the World Series are the teams that got hot at just the right time. The teams that are eliminated are the teams that got cold at just the wrong time. With Cashman, at least the effort is made each year to get players he thinks wi…

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
23 may
Contestando a

I agree with most of what you say, but for too many seasons, the goal, as I said in the article was to be good, but not great. The goal was to do as you suggest, try to reach the playoffs and get lucky rather than trying to be the best team in the playoffs with the intention to win.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
23 may

As much as I defend Aaron Boone for what is/isn't his fault, I feel no sympathy for him simply because he knew what he was getting into before he was hired. As well, everyone knew George was a SOB in business, and Cashman was there since about 1986, so he too, knew what he was getting himself into.


Since doing it the Cashman Way, there have been way to many misses, both roster wise and support wise (coaches, medical personnel, and even scouting). Having the type of money the Yankees have can cover up lots of mistakes/missteps, and can almost guarantee a very good club every single year.


For instance, LHP Patrick Corbin was a free agent , and Cashman…


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